On Friday night, Vulfpeck took to Morrison, Colorado, returning to the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre for their headlining debut with support from Kamasi Washington and KNOWER. The venue, which boasts a capacity of just north of 9,500 people, was packed to the brim with people, having sold out earlier in the day. Throughout the show, spirits were high, as fans and folks on stage celebrated Vulfpeck’s triumphant feat.
KNOWER, the electronic duo of Louis Cole and Genevieve Artadi, got the show off to a fiery start, setting the tone for the rest of the evening with their energetic live show and bass-heavy and eclectic sound. Somewhat similar to Vulfpeck, the group came into fame by releasing music online and steadily building a cult-like following. Thus, their attention to live performances was apparent, and the band did not disappoint as the venue steadily filled during their opening set.
Up next was Kamasi Washington, the Los Angeles-based saxophonist who has largely been heralded as the new face of jazz music. His performance with his truly standout band went deep, offering a vibrant performance and using the show to forward a message of diversity and acceptance of one another. One of the highlights of Kamasi Washington’s set was the rendition of “Truth”, a complex number off Washington’s Harmony Of Difference, which was released last year. Noting that the tune had five different melodies that expertly weave together, Kamasi introduced the song by noting that “Harmony of Difference is a celebration,” later adding “Our diversity is not something to be tolerated, it’s something to be celebrated,” which was met with cheers from the audience.
Following the huge close from Kamasi Washington, after a brief break, the members of Vulfpeck slowly took the stage, with each member getting a proper baseball-esque introduction as they ran onto the stage. The band, composed of Jack Stratton, Joe Dart, Theo Katzman, and Woody Goss, certainly did not disappoint, pulling out all the stops for their sold-out headlining Red Rocks debut. As such, frequent Vulfpeck collaborators like Cory Wong, Joey Dosik, and Antwaun Stanley were on hand for the majority of the performance, lending their own virtuosic music abilities to the mix, in addition to special guest sit-ins by Kamasi Washington, Louise Cole, and Charles Jones.
After the band’s “Tee Time” introduction, Vulfpeck wasted no time, quickly transitioning to an immaculate rendition of “Fugue State”. Setting a tone for the evening, the group then moved into “Outro” and invited Kamasi Washington to the stage, who stole the show with his fiery saxophone solos. After a huge round of applause following Kamasi’s guest appearance, the band moved into a take on “Cory Wong” featuring, predictably, guitarist Cory Wong, before inviting out their second guest of the evening, drummer Louis Cole, for a huge drum solo during “Daddy, He Got A Tesla”.
“Outro” with Kamasi Washington
Off 2016’s The Beautiful Game, the band next offered up “Animal Spirits”, which housed a raging sax solo, before moving into the soulful and sultry Joey Dosik-led tune, “Running Away”. With the song serving as a quick break before the show kicked into high gear, it was a welcome reprise before Antwaun Stanley emerged to offer his beyond powerful voice and charismatic stage presence to takes on fan favorites “Game Winner”, “1612”, and “Wait For The Moment”. An energized cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” came next, much to the delight of the crowd, before the group offered up yet another fan favorite tune, “Funky Duck”.
Sir Charles Jones, the soul singer and another past Vulfpeck collaborator, made his first appearance of the evening for a take on “Baby I Don’t Know”, one of his collaborative tune off Vulfpeck’s newest album, Mr. Finish Line. From there, bandleader Jack Stratton took centerstage, offering up one of his quirky “TED Talks” that have become a staple of Vulfpeck’s live shows. Hilarious and campy throughout, the talk served also an introduction for “Peck-A-Pella”, the band’s a capella alter ego, who performed their beloved rendition of “Back Pocket”.
TED Rocks Speech > “Back Pocket” (Peck-A-Pella)
Closing things out with bang, the group offered up three of their most popular songs, “Christmas In LA”, “Beastly”, and “Dean Town”. Vulfpeck is known for live performances featuring audience participation, and “Christmas In LA” saw Theo Katzman hit the front of the stage, leading the entire audience of nearly 10,000 in an extended sing-a-long, adding a delightful twist to the tune. As for the final two numbers of the set, the songs, in part, have become such beloved staples of the band’s catalog due to Joe Dart’s tremendous solos, and both “Beastly” and “Dean Town” gave the bassist time to unleash, proving why he is lauded as one of the best up-and-coming bassists in the music scene right now.
“Christmas In LA”
[Video: Kayleigh Boester]
For their extended encore, Vulfpeck, with Charles Jones, came out for a take on “Birds Of A Feather, We Rock Together”, another new tune off Mr. Finish Line. In a surprising twist, the group then kicked off a “Wedding” set, featuring renditions of popular wedding band songs, including The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”, The Four Seasons’ “December 1963 (Oh What A Night)”, Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”, mixed with the band’s own “The Speedwalker”. After this high octane string of feel-good tunes, Vulfpeck closed out their night in full with “It Gets Funkier”.
“Wedding Set” Encore
[Video: Kayleigh Boester]
Setlist: Vulfpeck | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 4/27/2018
Set: Tee Time (intro), Fugue State, Outro (with Kamasi Washington), Cory Wong, Daddy He Got A Tesla (with Louis Cole), Animal Spirits, Running Away, Game Winner, 1 For 1 / 1612, Wait For the Moment, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Funky Duck, Baby I Don’t Know (with Charles Jones), Jack’s TED Rocks speech, Back Pocket (Peck-A-Pella), Christmas In LA, Beastly, Dean Town
Encore: Birds Of A Feather (with Charles Jones), I Want You Back, The Speedwalker > December 1963 > September, It Gets Funkier